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Dorothy Sojka wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a Roman Catholic and have been happily married for ten years now to a Greek man of the Greek Orthodox faith. We are both practicing in our own religions.

We had two wedding ceremonies on our wedding day, the first, a Catholic ceremony followed by a Greek Orthodox ceremony the same day. This resulted in great happiness on both sides of our family. We decided to both remain in our faiths since our religious up bringing is so much embedded in our culture. I am Polish. We decided that we would bring up any children to know and appreciate both religions.

We have two daughters (3 years and 9 months old) and we baptized them Catholic. Now I feel my Greek side of the family feels very left out. This is causing great sadness in the hearts of many of my family including my husband.

  • Would it be so wrong, from the Catholic perspective, to also baptize my children in the Greek Orthodox Church?

My Catholic side of the family thinks that I would be committing a horrible sin. I want to use the Church (both Catholic and Greek Orthodox) as a foundation to teach my children about faith and to be tolerant of all people in the world, etc.

Please help me understand where the Catholic Church stands on such matters.

Thank you,

Dorothy

  { Would it be so wrong to baptize my children in both the Catholic and Greek Orthodox Church? }

Bob replied:

Dorothy,

Baptism is an unrepeatable sacrament. You simply can't be baptized twice because that is redundant. You have a bigger issue of figuring out how to raise these children without horribly confusing them.

You should raise them as Catholic, with a great respect for the Orthodox, but definitely adhering to the particulars of our faith. Children raised without a definitive religion are more likely to end up with none.

You and your husband must be on the same page on this. I suggest you have a heart to heart with each other and get it solved sooner than later, then don't worry about extended family.

They'll come around eventually if your husband is strong and holds good boundaries.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Dorothy replied:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for responding so quickly.

I guess I feared that if I did nothing, they would do nothing. I didn't consider that if I was to teach them both, they still might end up with none or, more importantly, that they would be horribly confused.

I tried to understand why our churches split to begin with and from what I can tell it has been described as one of the most tragic divides in Christianity. From what I can tell it was over land. (The pope at the time had a lot in Italy and became Emperor. The Orthodox did not like this.) followed by geography and language (Roman Catholics said the Mass in Latin while Greek Orthodox used Greek.)

I thought the teachings were more similar than they were different.

  • Am I wrong about this?

I thought that the differences were more because of cultural influences and how we celebrate and honor these traditions.

In 1995, Pope John Paul II and Bartholomew shared in Eucharistic Mass together. A testament to the similarities. Would love to hear more of your thoughts on this.

Thanks,

Dorothy

Bob replied:

Dorothy,

You are correct in that there is more in common between us than divides us.

We share essentially the same:

  • sacraments
  • apostolic priesthood, and
  • mostly the same theology.

Where we differ can be traced to geopolitical disputes, but there is an important difference in our understanding of the papacy.

For Catholics, Peter's role is chief among the Apostles, holding supremacy as the vicar of Christ. This is signified in that he alone holds the keys (cf., Matthew 16:19). For the Greek Orthodox, Peter has primacy, an honorary role, but not supremacy, an important distinction.

Dialogue between these poles is creeping slowly (God willing) to a common understanding that someday could spawn reconciliation. Until the issue of authority is agreed upon, we will remain divided. There is much more that Eric, our team member could add; he has a good deal of experience in this area — more nuanced questions could be directed his way.

Peace,

Bob

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